Of the 150 billion pairs of gloves produced annually, an estimated 100 billion pairs are thrown away each year. Learn how SHOWA's Eco Best Technology is helping to mitigate PPE waste.

Like all disposable goods, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) generates waste once it’s been used. Of the 150 billion pairs of gloves produced annually, an estimated 100 billion pairs are thrown away each year — enough to stretch to the moon and back 30 times laid end-to-end. And these were pre-pandemic numbers.

While PPE waste was an issue before 2020, COVID-19 exacerbated the problem. PPE like face masks, sanitizer, and single-use gloves were instrumental in reducing virus transmission but inevitably ended up as waste. In the months after COVID-19 was recognized as a global pandemic, single-use glove waste rose over tenfold due to the spike in usage.


“ New research has found that the pandemic has created an estimated 8.4m tons of plastic waste across 193 countries, and about 25,900 tons of that waste has leaked into the ocean. ”


PPE waste became so problematic that it was common to see masks and gloves littered throughout neighborhoods. Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries even warned in 2021 of disposed PPE posing a hazard to local wildlife, a result of having to deal with an increase in glove and mask litter. And that’s just the tangible environmental impact we see in our daily lives — new research has found that the pandemic has created an estimated 8.4m tons of plastic waste across 193 countries, and about 25,900 tons of that waste has leaked into the ocean.

Sadly, divers have recently found discarded face masks and bottles of hand sanitizers on the bed of the Mediterranean Sea. Ecologists can’t yet determine the extent of nitrile gloves’ environmental impact, but SHOWA biodegradable nitrile gloves are one solution that can mitigate PPE waste moving forward. Imbuing gloves with biodegradable technology creates a speedy, natural degradation process.


A decade ago, SHOWA biodegradable nitrile gloves emerged as the industry innovator. Today, they deliver the most extensive selection of biodegradable hand protection in the market. SHOWA’s Eco Best Technology® offers the same protection, performance, and grip as regular SHOWA nitrile gloves, but is measurably better for the planet. SHOWA gloves recently achieved the GreenCircle certification for eight protective gloves that all met the necessary qualifications to be certified as biodegradable.

SHOWA gloves with Eco Best Technology (EBT) are engineered with ingredients that promote accelerated biodegradation in biologically active landfills. Long-term landfill biodegradation testing from independent certified laboratories has shown SHOWA’s gloves with EBT achieved 82.0% biodegradation in only 386 days, while gloves without EBT achieved only 1.9% biodegradation over the same time. That means less PPE sitting in landfills for decades and better waste management around the world.

These kinds of advancements don’t occur overnight — enhancements to Eco Best Technology represent another example of SHOWA’s unmatched legacy in the innovation of manufacturing nitrile gloves made in the USA. For decades, SHOWA has developed gaming-changing inventions in the industry, including the world’s first-fully coated PVC glove in 1954 and the first single-use nitrile glove in the early 1990s. EBT is the next step in American-made nitrile gloves, so be sure to check out the broad range of styles and industrial uses of SHOWA biodegradable nitrile gloves.

Previously Featured on SHOWA's blog.

Go to to learn more about SHOWA's Eco Best Technology and browse their line of gloves.

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SHOWA is synonymous with the highest degree of hand protection and innovation. With 58 patents owned and hundreds of researchers and developers dedicated to making our best even better, we lead our industry without imitation. Our revolutionary technology is embedded in over 1,800 gloves, each meticulously engineered to provide the ideal protection for the task at hand. Down to every fiber, our gloves are created better to perform better, unleashing new potential for hands at work.

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